Mumbai: Dance to show what's common between flamenco and kathak
A performance will showcase the common ground between flamenco and kathak
It is by now a well-documented fact that the origins of flamenco can be traced back to nomadic gypsies from Rajasthan, who took their indigenous dance and music all the way to Spain centuries ago. It was there that local inflections were added to this art form's lexicon, making it one of the bedrocks of Spanish culture. But the point is that there is an amount of overlap that remains between flamenco and certain Indian dance forms. And these commonalities will be showcased at a performance called Flamenco Kathaa, scheduled for this weekend at a SoBo venue as part of an event called Concert for Conservation.
Aditi Bhagwat and Kunal Om are the two people who will put up the show. Bhagwat is a Kathak dancer, while Om extended his childhood fascination for tap dancing to pursue flamenco full-time. Having known each other for over a decade, they decided to join forces two years ago, and tell us more about their endeavour on phone from the US, where they have reached the fag end of a 25-city tour.
A wild night: Flamenco Kathaa is part of a concert organised by wildlife magazine Sanctuary Asia, where world music exponents Prem Joshua Band will also perform a closing set.
"The form of dance that has evolved in Spain after the Indian gypsies reached there is flamenco by itself. But it does have points of intersection with Rajasthani folk, and with the style of Kathak that I practise, which originates in Jaipur. And one of the most common features [between the two dance forms] you will find in our performance is in the way we stomp our feet to the music. There is a lot of similarity in our footwork, and you'll hear that in the shoes that Kunal wears and the ghungroos on my feet," Bhagwat tells us, adding that there are times when she dances to flamenco music and Om taps his feat to kathak tunes, and times when both these parts are matched together to create something completely different.
Om, on his part, says, "When the Rajasthani gypsies first settled in Spain, they found work as blacksmiths in the south and would sing to the rhythm of iron hitting stone. This poetry, accompanied with the strumming of the guitar, is what finally gave birth to flamenco. So, it's always been a culturally rooted form of art."
Bhagwat informs that the music they will dance to involves the use of a flamenco guitar, cajon and violin. They also have a different set that sees a group of Manganiyar musicians and dancers on stage, who help draw a direct link between the ancient gypsies and flamenco as an art form. But the show this weekend will make a more subtle connection between the Jaipur style of kathak dance and what is possibly Spain's biggest cultural import. So, book yourself a seat and travel back in time, following the footsteps of a hardy bunch of Indians whose age-old influence will resonate in the tapping of Om's shoes.
ON: November 23, 6.30 pm
AT: The Royal Opera House, Girgaum.
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